The Food debate

Published by David Keegan 15 years ago

Wholesome, good for you, bursting with freshness, eat well, just some of the superlatives used to describe food. Times are tough and as a consequence, the value and own brand label food lines in supermarkets are seeing a huge resurgence in popularity. The funny thing is that outside breathing air and having a decent water supply food is the main element of our lives. Yet, it is the first we accept as fluid and tangible in terms of quality and price.

The goodness and quality factor seem easily launched out the window of budgetary expediency. Just how good I wonder is the food we buy? All value ranges on offer by the supermarkets have been proven to have very little of the main ingredient. For instance, a fish pie with 9% fish or chicken and vegetable pies with 9% chicken and 2% vegetable. The rest is just a tummy muck of emulsifiers, fats, sugars, and colours.
So, whilst we are saving money we are gloop festing without any good nutritional content.

Who protects us from this or is it our own fault for not reading the label? Then again, would you really want to read the label? The vast majority of people I will bet do not read the label because they already have a good idea, that it’s a bad idea, with little of the benefits required from the food we eat. Food is one of the most underrated and messed around with things in our lives. Before it even gets to our stores, it will have been sprayed with any number of toxic chemicals. Our daily bread made from grain crops, probably being one of the most sprayed or treated sets of staples around. Whilst the EU has banned many pesticides in the last number of years, most were those for use in the domestic market.

In the meantime, large chemical companies seeing the writing on the wall started to consolidate their industries by buying up smaller companies and further diversified by also buying up seed producers. Not only does this afford them a firmer grip on food production but it also makes them a very powerful lobby group with politicians and lawmakers. We are now in a situation where five companies have managed to create a global cartel controlling 70% of food chemical production. Even more worrying is that these same companies will now control nearly all of the world’s research and development into new and innovative ways to use food manipulation both chemical and pharmaceutical  And, if you haven’t guessed by now these same companies are at the forefront of GM herbicide and seed production.

The reality of all of this is that food production will be moved out of countries with stringent controls to poorer countries in the developing world where the health of the environment and farm labour is of little or no consequence to these global corporations. In the process, large swathes of agricultural land will be given over to monoculture thereby making the communities more reliant for their own food on the controlling companies. This is not to mention the health affects on these people from prolonged exposure to a dizzying cocktail of poisons. Even more worrying for the UK in all of this is that the newly appointed Science minister Dr Paul Drayson is a supporter and advocate for the introduction of GM into the UK. I do not know if like Lord Sainsbury, he is a shareholder in any of the GM companies but regardless his support does not bode well for the environment of this country. In much the same way that large corporations such as Nestle, Kellogg’s, and Coca Cola have expanded their reach through diversification and consolidation. With this, the end supplier has now consolidated with the ever-increasing march of supermarkets.

This use of chemicals, bad enough as it is in our foodstuffs is also present in large quantities in virtually every item we purchase, from deodorants to household cleaners and sprays. To give a very simple example, look at the ingredients label on virtually any deodorant and you will see that aluminium has been added. This it is claimed can add to the risk of certain types of cancer.
It is only one small example.

Ultimately we have a responsibility to both ourselves and the environment to care about the food we eat and the products we buy. And if we are in a large part to buy into cheaper food and own brands, which barely qualify as food at all, will it be any wonder when the nations health is seriously affected as a consequence. For it is not so much that, there is no such thing as a free lunch but more there is no such thing as a cheap lunch.

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